Ferry Cruising – Mini-trips to Europe

No longer just a means of transport, modern ferries are more like cruise lines, with entertainment, great food and comfortable cabins. So if you want to sample life at sea, try a mini cruise on a ferry. Here are some attractive options.

Portsmouth to Spain

Brittany Ferries sails from Portsmouth to both Santander and Bilbao. The crossing takes 24 hours but time will fly by on board the luxurious ships. There’s a choice of eateries; light bites are available from bars and cafes, there’s a good self service restaurant and for a more sophisticated experience, there’s fine dining too.

Brittany Ferries in Santander You can take in a movie, have a dip in the pool, shop ‘til you drop or relax in the sunshine with a good book. For kids there’s a play area, video games and child-friendly restaurants.

Cabins range from twins and doubles to four berth family rooms. There are accessible cabins for those with disabilities and even pet-friendly accommodation. All cabins have en-suite bathrooms, air conditioning and are available throughout your journey.

Fancy staying a night or two in Spain before returning? Make your own arrangements or try one of Brittany Ferries’ holiday offers.

Stretching out around the bay, Santander has excellent beaches, restful gardens and great restaurants, ideal for a relaxing short break ashore. Brittany Ferries offers Santander cruise & stay breaks. For more information visit www.brittany-ferries.co.uk/offers or call 0871 244 1400.

Hull to Rotterdam

P&O Ferries’ overnight crossing takes around eleven hours and you need to be on board around two hours before departure so you have plenty of time to enjoy the ship’s facilities before getting a comfortable night’s sleep. Enjoy live bands and cabaret in the show lounge, dance the night away in the disco or try your luck in the casino. Take in a movie or relax with some drinks in one of the comfortable bars. For kids there are colouring-in pads and a play area where they can tire themselves out.

Show on P&O Ferries Feeling hungry? Then head to The Kitchen, an all-you-can-eat buffet. If you want more traditional dining then try The Brasserie and sip a glass of wine while you choose between delicious options such as whole lobster, sirloin steak or sea bass. Maybe the beer battered fish and chips takes your fancy or Lancashire Cheese souffle tart. You’re spoiled for choice.

When you’re ready for bed then you can enjoy your reserved accommodation. A standard cabin with toilet and shower is included in the ticket price but you can upgrade to larger cabins and ones with windows. The top-of-the-range Club Cabins have colour TV and tea and coffee making facilities. There are also accessible cabins for wheelchair users.

Rotterdam mini-cruises include coach transport between the port and the city centre, giving you over seven hours to explore this delightful and historic city before the return sailing. For more information visit www.poferries.com or call 0800 130 0030.

Aberdeen to Orkney & Shetland

The islands off the north coast of Scotland offer an unforgettable mixture of amazing scenery, culture and history. Northlink Ferries offers a unique opportunity to experience all this, together with a chance to try out your sea legs, and fresh air doesn’t come much fresher!

There are nightly sailings from Aberdeen to Lerwick in Shetland – with four of these sailings going via Orkney’s capital, Kirkwall. Take your time, there’s so much to see.

Sleeping pods on Northlink Ferries Whilst on Orkney, visit the Standing Stones of Stenness, a Neolithic monument built between 5,400 and 4,500 years ago. The village of Skara Brae was inhabited from roughly 3,180BC to 2,500BC, making it older than the Pyramids, yet these stone-built houses had furniture such as cupboards, dressers, seats and central fireplaces, even primitive toilets and drainage. See the wartime Churchill Barriers built largely by Italian prisoners of war, and the beautiful Italian Chapel they constructed for their worship. There are so many unique things to see you might stay longer than intended.

Lerwick is Shetland’s capital. Developed in the 17th and 18 centuries it has many shops, restaurants and attractions for visitors such as Fort Charlotte, dating back to 1665, and the bronze age Clickimin Broch.

Travelling in style and comfort, Northlink’s ferries offer a cinema, bars, restaurants, shops and free internet access. For a touch of luxury why not book the Magnus lounge? There are a range of two and four berth cabins on board or you can opt for a sleeping pod. They resemble an over-sized airline seat with a large table, adjustable lighting and a USB socket. Once reclined, you can sleep without intruding on the space of the person behind.  For more information visit www.northlinkferries.co.uk or call 0845 6000 449.

Harwich to the Hook of Holland

Stena Lines offers two sailings a day from Harwich to the Hook of Holland so you can choose between daytime and overnight sailings for the six hour crossing. Stena Lines Captain's Class cabin Stena’s super-ferries offer a la carte and casual dining, a bar, cinema, and a sun deck where you can relax and enjoy the sea air. Kids are well catered for with many kids’ favourite items on the menu, plus a play area and a basketball court to keep them occupied. There are over 500 en-suite cabins with designer beds, flat screen TVs, de-luxe shower fittings and, in ‘Captain Class’ cabins, a free mini-bar.

Want to stay a little longer? Amsterdam, Antwerp and Utrecht are within reach and if you don’t want to drive, the train station is close to the ferry terminal and cities such as Rotterdam and The Hague are in easy reach. Hotel packages are also available. For more information visit www.stenaline.co.uk

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Mike Pickup

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